Thanks for registering for the STEM Family Adventure Camp! By attending the upcoming camp, your Scout will complete requirements towards the Swing! Nova Award. 

In order to fully earn the Swing! Nova Award, your Scout must learn more about motion and machines. Scroll down to get started on this requirement!


Simple machines make work easier. They have few or no moving parts and they work by changing the direction of a force or the amount of force needed to do something.

There are six different simple machines.

The six simple machines are the wedge, screw, lever, pulley, inclined plane and the wheel and axle. They all make work easier and have few or no moving parts.



A pulley can move things from a low area to a higher one. A pulley has a wheel that allows you to change the direction of a force. As you pull down on the rope, the wheel turns and whatever is attached to the other end goes up.



A lever helps move heavy objects. When you push down on one side of a lever, the other side goes up. Levers can also be used to lift heavy objects such as a rock or furniture. A seesaw is an example of a lever.


A wedge is a simple machine used to split material. By placing the thin end of the wedge onto a log, you can hit it with a hammer. The wedge changes the direction of the force and it pushes the log apart.



An inclined plane can help you to move heavy objects. It is easier to move heavy things up a ramp than it is to lift them straight up. A ramp is a common example of an inclined plane. It takes longer to go up one, but it is easier.


A screw is a special kind of inclined plane. It's basically an inclined plane wrapped around a pole. Screws can be used to lift things or to hold them together.

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It uses a wheel with a rod attached in the middle as an axle to help it to lift or move loads. In some cases this machine works like a lever to multiply force (like with a doorknob or a fishing reel). In other cases it is used to move objects easier such as with wheels on a bicycle.


When we say that something is in motion, we usually mean that it is moving. But motion has a special meaning in science. In science, motion is a change in position compared to a place or an object that is not moving. The place or object that is not moving is called the frame of reference.

Motion is a kind of puzzle because every object in the universe is in motion. This means that no frame of reference is correct in every situation. For example, a car is in motion when the ground is the frame of reference. In this situation, we think of the ground as not moving. But the ground, a part of Earth, is in motion when the Sun is used as the frame of reference. This is because Earth travels around the Sun.

Motion is the process of an object moving or being moved. Motion that repeats is said to occur in a pattern. We can observe patterns of motion to make predictions about how things will move in the future. The force that slows down moving objects is called friction.

Force and Motion: A pattern of motion is the repeated processes of an object moving.

Motion can be straight (like an arrow being shot at a target), circular (like a

merry-go-round), up and down (like a pogo stick), zig-zag (like skiing), side-

to-side (like dancing). Some motion is a combination, like a swing. When

you are swinging you are moving up and down, as well as forward and back.

When the same motion repeats over and over, it creates a pattern.

A pendulum is a weight on a string that hangs from a single point. Pendulums swing to create a pattern of motion. The length of the string affects the pattern it creates. For example, short strings swing fast. Pendulums will continue to swing in the same pattern until a force, such as friction, stops them.

Predicting Motion: Patterns of motion can be used to make predictions.

If we know the pattern that a moving object is following, we can make predictions about where it will be in the future. For example, when you jump rope you are using the pattern to predict when to jump. You can use information from patterns to make lots of predictions, like how many swings you can do at recess or when to swing your baseball bat to hit a ball.



  1. An object in motion tends to stay in motion, and an object at rest tends to stay at rest, unless the object is acted upon by an outside unbalanced force.

  2. Force equals mass times acceleration.

  3. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

These three laws of motion help make it easier to understand how rockets, satellites, and spacecraft work. Want to learn more? Click here to explore more about space flight and motion. 

What happens when you roll different objects down an incline? Will they roll

at the same speed? Will they do in a straight line? Let's investigate!

Materials Needed:

  • Different-sized balls

  • Cylinders

  • Pipes

  • Other similar items


  1. Roll multiple objects at once down an incline and observe what happens!

  2. Push the items across the floor and observe what happens!

Which ones roll faster—solid objects or hollow objects? Cylinders or spheres? Objects with large diameters or small diameters? When they roll down the incline, which one rolls the farthest? When they are pushed across the floor, do they roll at the same rate?

Learn more about how things roll and fall at different speeds!


Watch the investigation with Buckeye Council volunteer and Astronomy Professor, Claudia Barr and her daughter in Scouts BSA!